After growing the user base of its online payment processing service to 400,000 merchants in 2016, Shopify Inc. is looking to move into physical stores.
The e-commerce giant today introduced a homegrown card reader that will enable retailers to process in-person transactions at their brick-and-mortar locations. It comes in the form of a flat, white rectangle shorter than the length of a credit card that has a groove at the top where shoppers can insert their cards. At the bottom is a detachable base for keeping the device steady that doubles as a charging station.
Shopify made the reader modular to try and appeal to as broad a range of merchants as possible. Traditional retailers can keep the device docked at all times on the counter, while a merchant that runs a pop-up store or plans to sell its wares at a festival could carry it there. TechCrunch reported that the built-in battery can last for as long as a week when seeing active use.
Although it has clearly put a lot of resources into the design, Shopify is not relying on the reader’s specifications alone to take up the fight against Square Inc. and other established players. The company will make the device available for free to the 400,000 merchants who have signed up for its platform so far in a bid to quickly establish a customer base.
The card reader made its debut at Shopify’s Unity conference in San Francisco today along several other new tools. Among the most notable additions is Launchpad, an application that enables merchants to schedule product rollouts, catalog design tweaks and other changes ahead of big promotions. It’s joined by a set of programming interfaces designed to help partners integrate their services more closely with Shopify on several key fronts, including analytics.